By Ryan Leong
Taking on the Broncos in Denver is about as daunting as it gets for the Silver and Black. Last season, the Raiders won their game at Denver in the season opener, 23-20. Week Nine marked the first start by Carson Palmer in a Raiders uniform in a 38-24 loss to the Broncos at the Coliseum.
After Sunday’s win against Pittsburgh, Raiders head coach Dennis Allen used a crossover prop to inspire his team.
During Monday’s media availability, reporters noticed in many players lockers’ wood bats inscribed with “Raiders vs. Steelers, Sept. 23, 2012” and the quote “Bring the Wood.” The message? To keep swinging for 60 minutes. As it turns out, every minute was needed in Week Three, culminating in the game-winning, 43-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski as time expired to give the Raiders a thrilling victory over the Steelers.
The Raiders secondary has been banged up this season through only three games, but they got some huge plays to beat the Steelers. Cornerback Pat Lee forced a fumble on a pass to receiver Antonio Brown. The fumble was recovered by linebacker Philip Wheeler and the ensuing drive would result in a game tying field goal by Janikowski. The Raiders would score the final 13 points of the game.
The team is still struggling on offense though despite a few big plays, like the 64-yard TD run from running back Darren McFadden. Although he ran for 113 yards, minus the long scoring run McFadden averaged only 2.9 yards on his 17 other carries. Also, he is averaging 3.8 for the season, but only 2.4 on the 43 carries aside from the 64-yarder.
As for receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, he is recovering at home after he was released from Eden Medical Center with a concussion and a neck injury. But Heyward-Bey wasn’t the only Raider suffering from a concussion. Tight End Brandon Myers, who had four catches for 55 yards, was also hit by the Steelers’ Ryan Mundy in a helmet-to-helmet blow. According to Coach Allen, he is going through the protocol of passing all the tests with no headaches.
Myers is the only player this season to catch every pass in his direction; he’s been targeted 15 times and has caught all 15 passes for 206 yards. No other player has more than nine receptions without a drop or incompletion.
The team issued a press release on Tuesday with the signing of free agent linebacker Vic So’oto. The 6-foot-2, 255-pound So’oto, whose name is pronounced so-OH-toe, played in seven games with the Green Bay Packers last season after signing as a non-drafted free agent out of BYU. He was placed on injured reserve by the Packers on Aug. 31 with an ankle injury and was waived-injured (injury settlement) on Sept. 10.
So’oto, who is a second cousin of the late All-Pro San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau, recorded seven tackles (five solo) and one sack with the Packers in 2011, playing on special teams and defense. He added three special-teams tackles on the season.
To make room on the team’s active roster, the Raiders waived linebacker Carl Ihenacho, who attended San Jose State. The team also released defensive tackle Vaughn Meatoga from the practice squad.
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Ryan Leong has reported on over 2,800 games in the Bay Area since 1998, covering the Sharks, Giants, A’s, Warriors, 49ers, Raiders and the local college teams for radio networks and wire services. Having the best seat in the house to watch sports has been a thrill and Ryan still enjoys going to the games giving fans some insight and perspective on the players and coaches. His work can be found on Examiner.com.